The Government of Spain did not use all its resources for the United States to thoroughly investigate the death of Telecinco cameraman José Couso, killed by a tank shot during the invasion of Baghdad (Iraq) in April 2003. This was determined by the National Court, and this has now been confirmed by the Supreme Court, who ratifies that the State must compensate Couso’s family with 182,290 euros. The magistrate Wenceslao Olea assumes the thesis of the previous instance, considering that “the silence was given in response” or the arguments of the State responsible for the facts were “accepted as good” despite the “concise” explanations.
“José Couso is an uncomfortable victim caused by a war that Aznar put us in and based on false data”
The judge points out in his order, made public this Thursday, that “Spanish citizens have the right to diplomatic protection by the National Administration, for compensation for damages caused by an illegal act, in accordance with International Law, caused directly by an other state”. The text indicates that this route is opened “when the injured party himself has not been able to obtain reparation through the mechanisms of internal law of the State producing the damage, provided that they are established and it is reasonable to obtain an express ruling in a reasonable time.
The United States never fully investigated what happened in the vicinity of the Palestine Hotel, where a good part of the foreign journalists who reported on the invasion of Iraq ordered by President George W. Bush outside the UN and with the express support of Spain, then ruled by José María Aznar.
And what could the state do? It is explained by the Supreme Court: “The use of diplomatic channels that are considered appropriate, in accordance with the rules of the external action of the Administration, or by other means admitted by International Law, aimed at repairing the damage caused, provided that such means make it reasonably admissible. ”
The judge considers it proven that “the Spanish State has not provided diplomatic protection, in accordance with the requirements demanded of it and taking into account the loss of opportunity that said omission would entail.” And it concludes: “the Spanish State was obliged, as stated in the judgment under appeal, to take steps in favor of an objective international investigation of the facts and, where appropriate, use the means it deems appropriate that could result in the reparation of the damage caused, not to shut up in response or to limit oneself to accepting as good the arguments given against the illegality of the act by the State that caused it. ”
Wenceslao Olea ditch: “What is not admissible is to omit any action that is not to accept as good the brief explanations given by the authorities of the State that caused the damage, but rather the search for an objective assessment of the facts, with the consequences that result from “.
The judgment of the National Court now ratified already stated that there was an “omission of diplomatic protection” after the murder of Couso. “The circumstances of the case made it necessary for the State to carry out its diplomatic activity in favor of the injured parties,” the court assured in January of last year. “However, (and this has not been questioned in the answer to the claim) – he added – the General State Administration limited itself to receiving and accepting the explanations offered by the United States Administration in the sense that the The attack on the Palestina hotel was justified and that the death of Mr. Couso was an unfortunate accident. ”
The National Court also investigated the death of Couso until 2015. Then, 12 years after a US tank fired at the Hotel Palestina despite knowing that dozens of journalists were staying there, the Government of Mariano Rajoy repealed the so-called Universal Justice, which allowed the Spanish courts to hear and judge certain cases, even if they had occurred outside its territorial jurisdiction.
Judge Santiago Pedraz even issued an international arrest warrant in the face of the blockade to which the US submitted any attempt to investigate what happened, and in order for the indicated soldiers to give a statement. The reform of the PP put an end to all the instruction, and the family of José Couso resorted to the Constitutional Court, which in 2019 shelved the matter.